Did politics ever affect the ancient Games?Politics were present at the ancient Olympics in many forms. In 365 B.C., the Arcadians and the Pisatans took over the Altis, and they presided over the 104th Olympiad the next year. When the Eleans finally regained control of Olympia, they declared the 104th Games invalid.
Some valuable political deeds were recorded at Olympia. An inscription on a victory statue honored Pantarces of Elis not only for winning in the Olympic horse-races, but also for making peace between the Achaeans and the Eleans, and negotiating the release of both sides' prisoners of war.
Side A: scene at center; charioteer crossing finish line
Photograph by Maria Daniels, courtesy of Harvard University Art Museums
Olympia was also a place for announcing political alliances. Thucydides describes a 100-year military treaty the Athenians, Argives, Mantineans, and Eleans entered into, which was recorded in public inscriptions on stone pillars at the first three cities, and on a bronze pillar at Olympia.
Side A: four-horse chariot
Photograph by Maria Daniels, courtesy of the Toledo Museum of Art
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